Work Smarter Not Harder: 15 Free or Freemium Social Media Marketing Management Tools

Many people today find using social media in their marketing mix to be a daunting, time consuming process.  With all the different social media networks available, it is no wonder why some people have this opinion, but using the right tools for the job can dramatically reduce your social media workload, leaving you free to focus your energy how you choose.  While many of the following services are compatible with multiple social media channels, unless you are only focusing on “The Big Three” e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, none will satisfy your every social media marketing need (for free), so it is necessary to set up multiple social media marketing management tools and create a personalized workflow that suites your tastes.

Aggregators

These tools help you save time by allowing you to easily collect, save, and review content from across the web from a single page to help you curate articles for your social media posts.

1. Netvibes - (Free Web Service)  is a content aggregator that pulls articles from across the internet. It can be compared to viewing stripped down content from multiple sites, all at once or a robust RSS feed reader. It also searches multiple social sites for conversations happening in real time.

2. Read It Later/Pocket – (Free Web Service, Kindle, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Android Apps) This service allow you to save content from across multiple platform such as websites, mobile apps and devices, and cleans them up into a more readable format that can be read offline.  It can also be interconnected with many other web services to streamline your social media efforts.

3. Readability – (Free Web Service, iOS and Android Apps) is very similar to Pocket with a different user interface.

Scheduling Tools

These are not your personal calendar, but rather allow you to schedule the distribution of your content to different social media channels from one easy to use service.  Saving you the time that it would take to post on each channel leaves you free to focus on actually fostering conversation with your followers or groups to which you belong.

4. Hootsuite - (Free Web Service or $9.99/m, iOS and Android apps) Is a Social Media Service that provides analytics, monitoring, and scheduling capabilities for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+ pages. You can post to individual social networks, monitor your profiles on the networks listed above, and view free monthly analytics reports on your social activity and engagement.

5. Buffer - (Free or $9.99/m) Is a service that automatically times your posts for the best impact.

Automation

These services allow you to set up specific responses to certain events or actions that can be used in conjunction with some of the other tools outline and here in this article to maximize your social media marketing efforts.  They can even be pretty handy for personal use.

6. Twitter Feed - (Free Web Service) is a service that enables automatic posts to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn via an RSS feed. Additional feature include filtering posts by keywords, adjusting the time period between posts, adding your own text before and after the automatically generated message. However, one major drawback to this service is that the maximum time delay between posts is 24 hours, so if you want to pipe highly specific content from multiple RSS feeds to a Facebook Page, this may not fit the bill.  On the other hand it is a great service for pushing your own blog posts to these social media networks, and it works wonders for populating a twitter account with a base amount of content.  Simply plug in your feeds, select the social media network, and watch the posts flow.

7. IFTTT - (Free Web Service)   an acronym for “If This Then That” Ifttt.com allows multiple online services to be interconnected. Use it as a supplement to hootsuite as it provides interconnectivity between more social networks and other services as well as more robust content customization. There are “channels” which are the different networks and services they connect and “recipes” which define how the “channels” interact with one another.  Use this carefully because is it possible to create infinitely repeating loops of automation, such as setting up a “recipe” to post your Facebook activity to LinkedIn and another to post your LinkedIn activity to Facebook will result in a never ending cascade of repeating posts.

Influence Tools

If the objective of social media marketing is to influence online behavior, then these influence tools can be one metric in determining the relative success of your social media efforts.  They typically measure influence through such variables as engagement with content (likes, shares, retweet, +1s ect.) as well as total and new followers, and audience size across multiple social media channels.

8. Klout (Free web service, iOS and Android Apps) - Branded as “The Standard for Influence” is a web service that measures influence and engagement across multiple social media networks and provides insights into your most successful posts, as well as you relative influence compared to other people across the web.

9. Kred – (Free Web Service) is very similar to Klout, with a different influence scale and user interface.

Data Analysis Tools

These tools are some of the most helpful in understanding successful content performance, and provide models for figuring out when to post, on what social network and how your social media efforts are preforming over time.

10. Twitter Counter - (Free Web Service) Counts and forecasts the number tweets, followers, following for any twitter user and displays them in interactive graphs.

11. Followerwonk.com - (Free Web Service) A twitter utility that analyzes a wide variety of metrics such as location, recency of follower/following activity, gender, age of accounts, follower/following count and much more.

12. Xefer.com- (Free Web Service) This Twitter utility provides data visualization for analyzing the time of day and day of the week that your twitter posts get the most engagement.

13. Facebook Insights for Pages - (Free for Facebook Pages) this is one the most robust out-of-the-box analytic tools for a social media service.  Your Facebook page must have at least 30 “Page Likes” to get access to the data, which includes Likes, Shares, link clicks, reach, engagement etc., and even allows .csv exports of your page data for customized data analysis through Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers. 

Content Sourcing

Lets face it, figuring out the most appropriate and ethical way of sourcing content for social media posts can be challenging.  There are various copyright restrictions for using others’ content, but this new medium has blurred the line on this issue.  These services provide clear and concise information on exactly what and how content can be used or reused, the copyright information, required attribution etc.

14. Search.creativecommons.com – (Free Web Service) this search engine has an advanced search option for commercial use to reuse media across multiple exterior sites such as Google Images, Flickr, Wikimedia commons, and many more.  It is useful in creating custom content without using stock photos for blogs or social media.

15. TheNounProject.com (Free - $3) – This site does require a descent understanding of design software, but can be incredibly useful for content creation.  The Noun Project provides a hosting and distribution service for artists who design minimalistic vector drawing for your use, some of which are in the public domain (such as government designed map, weather, and navigational icons) and are free to use without attribution, and other more complex and refined drawings that can be used under a creativecommons license with attribution or can be purchased for a modest fee of a few dollars per design.  There are thousands of designs depicting everything from a partially sunny day, to a cheeseburger, to radiation warnings.

I hope you find these services a useful and time saving addition to your social media marketing efforts.  Now, get out there, spread information, and have some conversations.

Alex Salsman is a Marketing Strategist at TDH Marketing Inc. and handles client and in house social media campaigns.  On twitter, he is 10th in the Dayton area by followers according to twitaholic.com and can be contacted at twitter.com/salsmaniac or at alex@tdh-marketing.com

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